A White male professor has gone viral after his tweet critiquing Indian food sparked outrage online.
Tom Nichols, an international affairs professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island, shared his unsolicited opinions regarding “non-American” dishes, especially Indian cuisine, stating that, “Indian food is terrible and we pretend it isn’t.”
“I think people often pretend to like non-American cuisines as a way of showing sophistication,” he continued.
Nichols was responding to a tweet from Jon Becker who originally wrote, “Please quote tweet this with your most controversial food opinion, I love controversial food opinions.”
Nichols ended his series of tweets with, “You may all continue with your outrage now.” And as he had anticipated, backlash ensued shortly, with prominent writer and political activist Shailja Patel calling this incident to be an example of “white male solipsism.”
Several Twitter users also viewed his words to be blatantly racist and pointed out that his statement was an unfair generalization as India is a diverse country with a wide variety of cuisines.
Celebrity chef Padma Lakshmi also responded to Nichols, asking, “Do you not have tastebuds?”
Democratic politician Saira Rao further explained, “Having white people trash Indian food is extremely triggering as an Indian who has been told that I smell weird, that my food smells weird and that Indians shit on the street which is why everything we are smells bad. My whole life.”
In response, Nichols published an op-ed in USA Today
, calling the outrage to be “lunacy”
and “unhinged fury.”
He admitted in his piece that his tweet was aimed at being controversial, attempting to irk certain social media users on purpose.
“I decided to go for the gold and point out that I cannot stand the cuisine of over a billion people,” he wrote. “And just to be annoying, I added that no one else could possibly like it either.”
However, he apparently could not handle the volume of backlash that came his way.
“I was accused, in various states of unhinged fury, of playing into stereotypes about Indians and furthering a history of oppression,” he wrote.
He continued on, blaming social media for treating “everything that passes before our eyes as a deadly serious business worthy of extensive debate.”
Nichols has since shared his op-ed piece to his Twitter account, and continues to respond to criticisms online, feeling that his statement was blown out of proportion.